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Studies Show Injury Rate High Among Prep Females

November 25, 1986|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER | Times Staff Writer

The November issue of The Physician and Sports Medicine contains a lengthy commentary by Harold B. Falls, a professor of biomedical sciences at Southwest Missouri State in Springfield, Mo., on the dangers of high school football injuries, specifically for girls who play. Among his conclusions:

--"During a 47-year period (1931-78), 544 deaths were directly attributed to high school football (an average of 11.5 per year). With better equipment, rules and coaching, this rate has decreased somewhat in recent years. For the period 1976-81, the rate averaged 8.2 deaths per year. This is still a significant number of deaths for a school-sponsored activity, and one wonders if elective chemistry courses would still be offered if that many students per year were killed in lab explosions."

--"Almost all of these injury factors are likely to be more operative in secondary school females than in males. Although specific data on football are not available, a number of investigations have compared the male-female injury rate when the two sexes are participating separately or together in the same or similar physical activity. Without exception, these studies have demonstrated a higher injury rate in the female."

--"It is definitely not the purpose of this paper to present a chauvinistic view of female sports participation. . . . However, I also believe that those charged with the responsibility for administrating, supervising, and coaching sports have an obligation to protect the health and well-being of the participants in those sports. They also have an obligation to protect themselves, their colleagues, the schools and other agencies from liabilities for injury that may arise from the participation. . . . . The pool of potential female participants in co-ed football may include many who are, in fact, physically unsuited but who are naive, ill-informed or overzealous, or who are simply 'trying to prove a point' or strike a blow for sexual equality. Those individuals should not be allowed to place themselves at undue risk of injury or death or to place other participants at such risk. "

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